JUNE MASSA-CRE: Uganda's Cranes beat the mighty Super Eagles of Nigeria
JUNE MASSA-CRE: Massa spurs 10-man Cranes to a memorable victory over Nigeria.
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First published: June 2, 2007
You would rather be asked to look for fur on the lion's neck than get a bottle of beer and wine as bars have been emptied owing to the Uganda Cranes memorable sweet victory over the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the group C African Cup of Nations qualifiers titanic clash at Namboole Stadium on Saturday evening.
This is as the country is over shadowed by chants, trumpet blowing, drumming, hooting and songs of praise, holding cards with phrases like --Sweet revenge, the days of thieves are always numbered, the dull Super Eagles can fly no more.
Despite going down to Utaka's strike in the 26th minute, the Cranes showed that they were on the field for business... dictating matters from the word "Go"... forcing Nigeria into conceding numerous corner kicks. The French based midfielder had capitalized on Kanu's defence sprinting pass, beating the Cranes goalie Denis Onyango to silence the full to capacity stadium with classic finishing. But this seemed to have recharged the Cranes, as the equalizer was just a matter of time.
In the last game Nwankwo Kanu scores the only goal of the match for the Super Eagles
Read More: Uganda Cranes Lost a Battle... Not a War
After the break, the Cranes' German coach made some tactical changes bringing on an attack minded right full back Simeon Masaba for Richard Malinga which paid off as he added more fire power to Taye Taiwo who had already faced a run for his money from workhorse Daniel Wagaluka.
Barely seven minutes into the second half, Afolobi Rabiy who had found it hard to cope with the pace and skill of Massa had no option other than brining him down in the forbidden area. This was after an exchange of some neat passes from the Mid field which South African based live-wire David Obua converted to square the game 1-1, sending the 50,000+ crowd wild. This recharged the Cranes attacking the Super Eagles from all angles.
However, in the 56th minute, the Cranes were hit by very big blow following the limping off of playmaker David Obua due to an arm string. This forced Csaba to replace him with Rwanda-based midfielder, Vincent Kayizzi changing positions with Wagaluka, the latter shifting to the right creating room for Kayizzi in his preferred right flank.
In the 62nd minute, Massa was back in business, turning the entire Nigerian highly rated back four into a novice, beating them only to be impeded by a Nigerian's custodian, Ejide, resulting into another spot kick that skipper, Ibrahim Sekajja professionally converted, sending Ejide a wrong side to give Uganda a 2-1 lead.
With 25 minutes to go, the Cranes were once again hit by another tragedy following the sending off of midfield dynamo, Noah Kasule Babadi after a second bookable offence that rules him from the next fixture against Lesotho.
This meant that Csaba had to revise his formation from 4-4-2 to 4-4-1 formation, hoping only to attack the Eagles on break which almost paid off as in the 78th minute, Massa almost hammered the final nail in the visitor's coffin with a hard shot off a Sekajja through ball only for Ejide to stretch and punch it into a corner kick.
UGPulse members are dedicating Innerman's "Silina Manyi"- I Don't Have Strength(without God) to the victory.
After the referee's final whistle, the Cranes could not hide their tears of joy. "When the doors are closed, God opens the windows for you. They robbed us in the first leg but God has paid them for it," said Massa who missed the first leg in Abaekuta but prior to the game, the 22 year old hit man warned the visitors of a rude welcome. Then Cranes lost controversially the first leg by 1-nill after the Senegalese referee cancelled Sserunkuma's would be equalizer in the 92minute.
His Tactician, despite the sweet revenge, reminded his troops that the battle is still on, warning them against a possible complacency in the next games. "The battle is still on. Good we have won but my players should be aware that our target is to reach the finals," says Csaba.
The win has not only narrowed gap between the two teams but has also sent a strong warning to the other elite class of African soccer power houses that the Cranes are no longer mediocre. The Cranes who are now trailing the Nigerians by only two points visit Lesotho in a fortnight for the next qualifiers fixture.
In the other games played, Ethiopia has piped DR Congo 1-0, South Africa's Bafana Bafana has taken Chad to a footballing school by walloping them 4-0, Tanzania and Senegal settled for a 1-1 draw as Zambia humbled Congo Brazzaville 1-0.
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First published: June 2, 2007
Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.